Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Getting ready for caching - the bike, part 2

Getting ready for caching - the bike, part 2

I woke up in the middle of the night, realising that £350 for a Thule Easyfold (new cost £600) would be a great bargain, and I should buy it before someone else does.

Too late. Someone else bought it. I should have decided sooner.

So I rummaged around through eBay, and found a Witter ZX200 for £75 (buy it now).  £75 is a really good price. The ZX200 can tilt (giving access to the car boot) and is lighter than the other similar tow bar carriers at 11 kg (the Thule Easyfold is 18kg). So I bought it, paid via Paypal and today (14 March) I collected it from Aldershot, which is less than an hour away.

There are two locks - one stops anyone stealing the carrier, and the other stops people stealing the bike from the carrier. I doubt if I'll use them. I find it hard to imagine that anyone would steal a bike carrier, and I'm not going to leave a bike on the carrier unattended. 

The ZX200 looks good on the car, and seems to be a well-made and solid carrier.

To get the bike onto the carrier, I have two possibilities. The bike (without battery) is 25kg, which I could lift, but with my hernia I don't want to risk it. So, the first possibility is a wooden ramp, which I'll hook onto the carrier and I'll just push the bike up the ramp. The ramp will be about 20 degrees, so I get a 4:1 advantage, meaning I push 6kg.

The other possibility, is to fit a length of wood onto the roof rack, with the wood sticking out of the back by a meter or so. And I'll attach a hoist to that wood, so I can just winch the bike up, and attach it to the carrier. And if that works, I might replace the hand winch (which cost me £20) with an electric winch for £90.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Getting ready for caching - the bike

Getting ready for caching - the bike

The bike that I used to use for caching a few years back, is still in good condition. I oiled the cables to make them run more easily, pumped up the tires, and it works fine.

That is, it works fine if I use it from home. But I want to be able to transport the bike to where I'll be caching, and I have a bit of a problem there.

And the batteries are still good.

Although my recovery from cancer is 100%, it's left me with a couple of problems. My fitness is terrible, my back is weak, and I have an abdominal hernia. I consulted a doctor about the hernia, and he advised that I should do nothing about it, except I mustn't lift heavy weights, such as a full suitcase.

But the electric bike weighs 25 kilograms, and that's without the batteries, which can be lifted separately. And 25 kg is too much for the hernia.

I've bought a tow-bar mounted bike carrier, from which the bike will be suspended. But how do I lift the bike up to it? I don't want to try to lift 25 kg.

So I bought a block and tackle. Two blocks with three pulleys each, which gives me a mechanical advantage of 6:1. So I'll only be lifting 4kg. But I need to attach the top block to a pole or something.

I tried a six foot pole, but the problem is that I'm pulling the cord, but then the pole tilts sideways and it's difficult to stop that. So I need two poles, joined at the top, so that it can't tilt from side to side. 

Also, there's a problem using the block and tackle. You have to hold on to the cord, or the bike returns to the ground. And the cord tangles itself. And the bike tilts as I lift it.

So, I've ordered a hoist, the kind that has a ratchet and a handle, so the bike stays up when I let go of the handle. Next, I need to build an A-frame out of two six foot lengths of aluminium plus a strut to hold them together, but the whole thing needs to be not too long so it won't fit in the car. I'm hoping that will  work.

There's also the possibility of getting a 12 volt electric hoist for about £90, so I don't even have to wind a handle.

And there's another possibility; that's to get a tow-bar mounted carrier that the bikes sit on, plus perhaps an inclined plane so I can just wheel them on to the carrier. Normal bikes are around 15 kg, but the electric bike is 25 kg, so it needs a heavy-duty carrier. But those cost £360 for the "Halfords Advanced 2 bike Towbar mounted bike rack" (and it weighs 14 kg), and I'm trying the cheaper option first.


Getting ready for caching - mapping

Getting ready for caching - mapping

I was a serious geocacher, (number one in Europe at one point) but for various reasons I haven't done much for a few years. Now I want to get back. It's a great way to take exercise. Walking is boring, but walking plus geocaching is fun.

 But there are two factors now that weren't a problem a few years back. One is my eyesight. The right eye is good, but the left has glaucoma, and is so fuzzy that I can't read a book with it. This impacts reading a GPS. The other factor is that I have a hernia, more n that in another post.

I used to use a Loox for caching. It has a 640 by 480 screen, but now I find that hard to read. Before that, I used a Mio Digiwalker, with a 320 by 240 screen, which I find a lot easier to read. The Loox will take CF cards, so I can easily put a 16gb card in, which will store everything. But the Loox doesn't have built-in GPS; I have to use a separate device, which I connect with bluetooth. And, of course, getting the two to communicate is often a hassle.

On my Apple iPhone, I have the Geocaching app, but that's lacking in some of the facilities of the Mio. For example, it's not as good when setting caches. And I don't see how to use OS maps. OS maps show footpaths, and the 1:25k shows great detail, such as, which side of the hedge is the footpath. I also have Memory Map on the Iphone, and I've downloaded all my OS maps to that. But again, it lacks many of the features of Memory Map on the Mio (aka Pocket Nav).

One disadvantage of the Mio is the size of the storage card. It won't take SDHC cards, so officially it's limited to 2GB. Unofficially, it can take 4GB SD cards, but they are very difficult to source nowadays. I have four of them, so I'm OK.

To load up the Mio, I can connect it to a Windows box, but that's rather flaky, and often won't connect. But I can also take the SD card out, and use an SD card reader to download mapping and caches to the card. That works reliably. But there was a problem. How do you get the Mio to load up on my latest set of caches?

MM on the Mio lets me backup the cache data ... but there's no restore! My plan was to download the cache data to the SD card, and then restore from that. But there's no restore ... I struggled with this for a short while, then I Googled the problem (that's usually a good idea). And I found the answer. If you copy a .mmo file to the Mio, then if you click on that, it loads it into MM. The explanation I found was very detailed and dated back to 2006. Then I noticed who posted this solution. It was me! So, thank you, me of 17 years ago.

I also have TomTom on a dedicated device. But I decided to install it on the Mio and use the navigation from that. The big advantage is that the clip that attaches the TomTom to the windscreen is difficult to operate, and it usually takes me several minutes to get it to work. But the attachment for the Mio is much simpler to use.

So that's how it's going to work. TomTom on the Mio to navigate the car, the I'll use the same Mio for the bike and for walking (I have a rather good clip to hold it on the bike).

And I have a big battery pack so I'll never run out of battery.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

I get spam

 I get spam

Occasionally, I get a spam with is outstanding in some way. Here's one that arrived today.




 Subject: NASA teams up with astrologer to uncover your wealth

Hey ,

You are NOT gonna believe this but…

Renowned astrologer, Celeste Asteri, has been granted access to NASA’s highly accurate Galacticcoordinates…

And she’s using it to create a personalized blueprint to wealth and abundance for thousands of people from around the world…

Including you.

Thanks to this unique combination of highly accurate NASA technology…

And Celeste’s natural ability to uncover your hidden gifts…
NASA teams up with astrologer to uncover your wealth
You’ll discover, in eerie detail, what’s holding you back from a life of wealth and abundance…

And the hidden natural gifts and talents you can use RIGHT NOW to create the wealth of your dreams starting today.

The crazy part is…

Celeste is giving you free access to use this powerful technology right now.

But you need to hurry…

Because thousands of people from around the world are flocking to try out this life-changing technology…

And Celeste might need to shut it down or put this technology behind a paywall before her servers get overwhelmed.

So if you want to discover your ONE CHANCE to break the shackles holding you back…

Then take action now before it’s too late.

Claim your NASA-backed blueprint to a life of wealth and abundance now.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

New caches

New caches

After some years of no caching, I've hidden five new caches. They are hidden along the regular walk that I've been taking for a while as exercise. The walk is adjacent to our local golf course, and the cache containers are inspired by that. They should be pretty easy to find.

Saturday, 11 February 2023

Changing the SIM PIN

Changing the SIM PIN

If you're with Vodafone, then your default SIM PIN is 0000. If you don't change it, then anyone can take the SIM out of your phone, put it in another phone, and use that phone to send and receive texts as if they came from your phone.

The possibilities for fraud are many. It's nearly as good as being able to know the password for your phone, because many two-factor authentications rely on sending a text to your phone with a code that you then type in to a web browser to prove that you are you. 

So it's important that you change your SIM PIN. With an iPhone, go to Settings > Mobile Data > SIM PIN. If you have an iPad, go to Settings > Mobile Data > SIM PIN. With an Android, Google for how to do it.

If you've never set a SIM PIN, give it the default code (0000 for Vodafone other companies might use something else, use Google or call your phone service supplier). Then when it asks, make up a PIN number (and write it down somewhere safe, such as your "Black notebook of Passwords). Don't store it on your phone!

 If you give the wrong PIN, then after three tries, it locks, and the only way out will be to ask your phone service provider for a replacement SIM.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

A year went by

 A year went by

It was a year ago today, that I went under the knife for a liver resection. Just before they knocked me out, they asked me what operation I was about to have. "Full brain transplant", I replied, and then I passed out.

Five surgeons worked on me for nine hours, and they cut out most of my liver and all of my gall bladder. I don't think they transplanted my brain, but how could I tell, because if they did, I wouldn't know.

Recovery took months.

But now I feel that I'm totally over the effect of the operation, except that my cancer is gone (I had a scan in October, and revisited Churchill hospital in December for the results, which were great) and I have a hernia (probably partly caused by the operation).

The nurses, of course, were great, and I'm really pissed off at the way that our government is playing Grinch with them. Also, the doctors were great, and the nursing assistants, and the porters, cleaners and food staff. They were all doing their best for me and the other patients in their wards. When I went back last December, I gave them four big boxes of chocolates, to show that there's at least one person who is on their side.

It took a few months to get my appetite back. I started with Chinese takeaways, then Turkish, Indian and KFC. But now I'm on home-cooked meals, prepared by the good Ladysolly, and the only long term effect is that I don't dare lift anything really heavy. And a year ago, I really didn't want to eat, and was only forcing food into myself because I knew that I had to. Now, I'm actually looing forward to meals!

I consulted a consultant about the hernia; his opinion was that it isn't life-threatening, and we should leave it alone for now (but keep an eye on it). So, I'm not going to be cut up about it.